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What Are They Doing Now?

Filed Under (blogs, crisis communications, Entertainment, Public Relations) by integratePR on 13-02-2014

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The Integrate Public Relations Team loves all things social media, and some of the girls’ guilty pleasures are pop culture and pop culture news websites.  They keep the rest of the team up-to-date on all things Hollywood and celebrities.

Recently Jon and Kate Gosselin, the stars from the canceled TLC show Jon and Kate Plus 8, have been making a splash on entertainment news stations and websites.  Since their divorce in 2009, Jon and Kate have made their differences and negative opinions of the other known.  Everyone remembers Jon’s womanizing ways during his divorce and Kate’s effort to carry on the show as Kate Plus 8, but it’s the latest news headlines that have Integrate Public Relations’ pop culture lovers buzzing.  Their immersion back into stardom has us cringing, as it’s somewhat of a public relations nightmare.

Jon has made his way back to the front of the camera and is starring on the reality TV show Couples Therapy, with girlfriend Liz Jannetta. What seems to be pushing him even further into the spotlight are the interviews, like the one with E! News, where he says he wants “temporary primary custody” of the children because he thinks Kate needs a “psychiatric evaluation.” 

These interviews are the result of Kate and her twin daughters’, Mady and Cara, disastrous interview on the TODAY Show where the twin girls hardly spoke.  Needless to say, this is a crisis PR situation.  After this awkward, quiet interview Kate is being scrutinized for her parenting skills, or lack there of, and if she raising her eight children in the celebrity lime light is too much for her, and for her children.

As PR professionals we have to ask, is this the best way to handle the situation?  Dealing with media while simultaneously dealing with another person who has opposing views can be complicated.  The different components of their relationship would probably work more cohesively if Jon and Kate discussed such topics as custody and Kate’s mental health one-on-one and behind closed doors.  If the two feel the need to broadcast their statements and publicize their personal affairs, they should have a PR professional give them media training or use a spokesperson to release a truthful, neutral statement.

What makes this situation particularly challenging from a PR standpoint is that Kate appeared with her twin daughters on the Today Show fully confident that they would speak up in support of her and her parenting, as they had in a previous magazine interview. It was difficult to watch Kate squirm when her daughters declined to answer or cooperate. Clearly, she was not briefed on what to do in the absolute worst of situations. Crisis communication and damage control are necessary in the PR world, and we can learn from Kate’s unraveling on a national television show.

An Unfortunate Event for LC

Filed Under (blogs, crisis communications, online presence, Public Relations) by integratePR on 22-08-2012

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Last week, one of our favorite celebrities around the office, Lauren Conrad, was in quite the PR predicament when she created a DIY project that involved destroying several children’s books from the popular Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events series. The offending video featured our darling LC ripping the spines from the books to be used as decoration for baskets. Once fans of the books caught wind of the video, angry emails prompted the DIY queen to take down her post.

Was this the right thing to do? While Conrad was slammed for being an author who decimated books, was the anger well-deserved? From a PR standpoint, we believe the error was made when the Conrad camp declined to comment on the incident, offering no plausible explanation for the video being removed from the site.

At IntegratePR we understand that the Internet is a place where instant reactions are often necessary and welcomed, although we would always recommend providing a statement in a crisis situation like this one. While it’s difficult for us to choose sides, we would like to point out that in fact, many people re-purpose old books. Check out these projects from our Pinterest page:

Book Carvings:

Blocking out your favorite quote and framing it:

Do you think that it’s OK to deface books? With the prevalence of e-readers  do you think that repurposing print editions into art will gain popularity? Let us know by starting a conversation on our Facebook or Twitter.

Getting Inside an Organization

Filed Under (case study, company culture, crisis communications, Science, Social Media, twitter) by integratePR on 09-08-2012

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It’s been a big week for NASA flight director Bobak Ferdowsi. In addition to becoming an overnight Internet sensation, he helped land the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity mission. Not bad for seven days.

The lesson that we can learn from Ferdowsi’s literal overnight success is that your employees can inadvertently become your brand champions. During the mission Bobak used his personal Twitter account @tweetsoutloud to live tweet the action. As his meme as the “good looking NASA scientist” gained popularity, his twitter follower count grew to over 10,000 overnight. His newfound popularity is allowing him to become the new, young face of NASA and his “cool” appearance is surreptitiously getting a new generation of kids interested in science.

How would you feel about your employees becoming your brand advocates? As PR professionals, it is important for us to rule out any crisis situations upfront. If Ferdowsi’s personal Twitter handle is associated with the brand, any misconduct on his part could give the public a reason to attribute it back to NASA. If you were on the social media team at NASA how would you handle a potential mis-tweet on Bobak’s part? Leave responses in the comments below or sound off on our Facebook and Twitter.

Personal Opinions in a Public Business– Chick-fil-A Case Study

Filed Under (case study, crisis communications, opinion) by integratePR on 03-08-2012

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Chick-fil-A has been in the middle of a media whirlwind over the past two weeks. While everyone has their own opinions about the matter, this blog post is inherently about Public Relations and although everyone has something to say, we would like to talk about the public relations aspect of this story. In case you were confused about what exactly public relations entails, the Public Relations Society of America defines it as “… a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” As public relations professionals, we are trained to be able to model our messaging to fit in with a company’s goals and values.

Again, this blog is not made to post personal opinions or editorials but merely comment on the PR work that is being done. So while we cannot say that we support or do not support the message, we are interested in the fact that Dan Cathy stood by his statements.

Although we work as an agent for our clients, part of our job as communication professionals is providing counsel to them and letting them know when they should separate their personal opinions from the way that they do business. So we position this question to our blog audience: should you use personal opinions in the public like this to segregate your audience? Leave answers in the comments below or start a discussion with us on our Facebook or Twitter!

 

Graduation Gaffes

Filed Under (crisis communications, twitter) by integratePR on 25-05-2012

This weekend seniors marched to Pomp and Circumstance in order to receive their diplomas. But there were a few graduation snafus that we believe were begging for some strategic crisis communication. While graduations usually mean the end of grades, since some major failures popped up – we decided are ranking on how well they each handled the situation.

Insensitive Print

How it went down

The Unabomber is known for his vicious mail bombing campaign that spanned a time from the late-70’s to early-90’s, killing 3 people and injuring 23. Although he is currently in the United States Penitentiary-Max in Colorado, he found time to send in his update to the Harvard Fiftieth Anniversary Report, listing his current occupation as prisoner, his current address as the facility where he is serving time and his awards as “eight life sentences.”

We give this communication response a C

While Ted Kaczynski is an American with unalienable rights such as the freedom of speech, the sensitive nature of his incarceration should have prompted Harvard to rethink printing his information. Making light of a situation that resulted in the deaths of civilians is not comical. Harvard has yet to comment on the story, which is receiving national attention.

Memes at Inappropriate times

How it went down

If you paid attention to the past NFL season, or even to the online meme community, you know that “Tebowing” means dropping to one knee as Tim Tebow did during his season with the Broncos. However, Chuck Shriner made the gesture during his high school graduation from Fort Meyers’ Bishop Verot High School. The story made local headlines and Shriner was forced to clean the school’s gymnasium as punishment.

We give this communication response an B+

What a punishment – wish we got off that easy! In stories that have been in national circulation, there has been no comment from the high school. We agree and don’t think the school should comment – this kid did something to get attention on his last days of high school glory, give him a break. In numerous national conversations on this topic referencing religion Integrate Public Relations would made sure to communicate that the problem lay in the student’s direct violation of an order from the school, warning that any antics during the commencement ceremony would not be tolerated, not the religious symbolism of the act.

Printing gone awry

How it went down

The University of Texas’ Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs was presented with quite an unexpected situation as an error omitted the “L” in “Public Affairs” this past weekend. The mistake was spread quickly over social media channels after one student tweeted a picture of the mistake. The assistant dean for communications said that the university will be printing new programs and sending them to LBJ school graduates. The Dean issued a formal apology from the LBJ School that stated they were not taking the matter lightly and that “no one is laughing about this at the LBJ School.”

We give this communication response an A

And no, this is not because this is half of the company’s alma mater. Integrate Public Relations thinks that the university handled this well by handling the situation in a timely fashion and providing an official response from the University. Hookem!

We do not play by the rule of thought that “any publicity is good publicity” – we want to make sure that audiences are watching you and your company or brand for the right reasons. Being able to mitigate a crisis in a way that does not affect your reputation is a skill that takes practice, patience and a steady hand in stressful situations.

We strongly believe in strategic planning for various crisis scenarios; while you know your organization better than anyone else, hiring a third party to help with this process is a great way to get an outside set of eyes. Guarantee the lay person would have caught “PUBIC affairs” and it’s likely that someone with no connection to Harvard would have a different opinion about the Unabomber’s status update.

Coke Cracks Up Over the Sidewalk – Guerilla Marketing Gone Wrong

Filed Under (case study, crisis communications, Digital Media News, Guerilla Marketing) by integratePR on 06-04-2012

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Everyone loves a great guerilla-marketing stunt, but one of the most well-represented brands in America, Coca-Cola, had one of their stunts go awry this past weekend during the Final Four festivities in New Orleans.

After hiring a local ad agency to assist them in their marketing push, stenciled logos (pictured above) soon graced sidewalks along the historic French Quarter. Apparently, Coke did not do their research on this area as the entire French Quarter is treated as a “living museum”, and their sidewalk graffiti was considered as defacement of public property. Coca-Cola spokesperson Kel Villarrubia claimed “There was a miscommunication between our (hired) agency of what the permits from the city allowed. It was clearly a miscommunication on the part of our agency. When we learned of their misinterpretation, we moved very quickly to send out crews to remove the stencils that they had placed.”

The lesson here is to always do your homework. The local agency should have researched permitting laws. If they had done this, they would have realized that law prohibited the placement of any advertising on public property between March 28 and April 4, unless sanctioned by the NCAA and approved by the city, and also that violators would be fined for not obeying this ordinance. While street art and guerilla marketing stunts are quirky, clever and innovative, failure to verify the legality of any stunt can result in negative publicity.

Will this negatively affect the way Coca-Cola is perceived? The brand is 126 years old and is in very good public standing but do you think they handled this situation in the best way possible?

“FYI my name isn’t “lady chinky eyes” – Do Social Media Postings Always Require a Response?

Filed Under (case study, crisis communications, customer service, facebook, online presence, Public Relations) by integratePR on 11-01-2012

For Domino’s pizza, one video prank in 2009 left people questioning their entire brand. In less than a week, not only did Domino’s issue their formal apology; they created an entirely separate Twitter feed to address the comments. Unfortunately history repeated itself yet again, this time with the third biggest pizza chain taking a hit – one day after they hit 2 million Facebook fans. On Saturday night, @mintymin sent a tweet saying:

 

Within hours the tweet – which included a picture of the receipt in question- had made its way to thousands of users –even finding its way to Texas! Papa John’s had a quick response time and first reached out to Min before attempting to answer the multiple users who had heard about the incident.

As of Monday, January 9, 2012 Papa John’s sent 40 tweets to individuals who expressed concern about the event.

An article posted earlier today on eMarketer.com asked the question “Do Social Media Postings Always Require a Response?” According to the article, 49.5% of people would be “far less likely to buy anything from a company” that did not answer, but also cited that many times brands “don’t need to respond to every ounce of negative buzz in the social sphere.”

This may be true with the way Papa John’s handled their Facebook posts.

After the initial post, Papa John’s did not respond to any of the resulting 816 comments.

The question is this: Did Papa John’s handle the situation in an appropriate manner? In terms of response time, Papa John’s did fine, addressing the client both publically and privately. The apologies appear genuine and the employee’s termination was of course in order. However, it remains to be seen if the corporation will be forced to withstand any longstanding negativity. Within one week after the incident with Domino’s, public perception of the brand went from positive to negative, according to research company YouGov. With the SuperBowl – one of the five biggest pizza buying days of the year- less than a month away, and last year’s pizza sales projection being over 1 million; it will be interesting to see if this new story will affect how much “dough” the pizza chain will bring in. As with all corporations, it is important to remember that while resolving problems in the short term is necessary, the overall goal is to maintain a positive relationship with the public.

How to Fix “The 10 worst nightmares for a PR professional”

Filed Under (crisis communications, integratePR) by integratePR on 31-10-2011

It’s a Halloween Monday, and it seems that PR professionals around the country have been scaring themselves silly by sharing Jennifer Nichols’s article on Ragan’s PR Daily listing 10 terrifying PR situations. In response, we are giving a list of 10 tricks to turn these scares into “treat”-able situations.

Situation One – You mail merge a pitch to the wrong media list:

This one is especially scary since most of us send several pitches per week, and constantly juggle many specifically tailored media lists. There are two ways to rectify the situation, the first of which of course is to immediately send a follow-up email to the addresses that received the message in error to disregard the previous item. It is important to claim responsibility for the situation immediately in order to move forward and maintain the relationship with that media professional; contacts that you have a close relationship with may be more understanding and even those with whom you are not as close will appreciate saving them the precious minutes they would have spent assessing the pitch.

The second part of fixing this flub is of course, sending the pitch to the right list. As most pitches are timely, do not fixate on the mistake, but take action to ensure that the information is still sent to the right media.

Situation Two – Your big placement is canned due to huge breaking news:

In this situation it is important to assess the importance of the news that has pushed your coverage aside. Is it a major snowstorm that has stranded thousands of civilians? Has a major world power fallen to a country’s rebels? Whatever the reason, the journalists in charge of the publication had sufficient reasoning to move your restaurant’s opening to the back burner.

Of key importance in this situation is to remember that it is all business, never personal. Calling/Emailing a rude message will not help the situation and will certainly not guarantee a solution other than getting blacklisted with the publication in question.

You should however, get in contact with your source at the publication and ask two things: 1.) Inquire as to whether they can run your placement at a later time in the day or 2.) Whether there is any chance for coverage the next day. Just remember, they are not scrapping your news for something unless it is truly necessary. They may need to place breaking news in the spot and with the nature of the news being very timely; the space for the next day may already be taken up. If they are unwilling/cannot add more space for the next day, try your best not to burn your bridge with this contact, and do your best to explain to the client the reasons that the breaking event took precedence – in the event of a major catastrophe, they may have already heard the news of the day and be more understanding about the missed or delayed coverage.

If there is a way to reformat your pitch to tie it into the news that follows, you may be able to get some press at a later time.

Situation Three – A press release is issued with the CEO’s name misspelled and all the URLs are dead

This is a relatively easy fix; the key here is to plan ahead to make sure you are abreast of the situation as soon as it happens. You can do this by checking over the pitches you have just sent, especially when they are URL-heavy (which we don’t recommend in the first place as this has a bigger chance of getting caught in SPAM filters). It is key to find this mistake before the recipient notices or even worse issues incorrect coverage. As with the first situation, you must accept culpability for the error. Sending a message of apology that is clear and to the point along with the correct and live copy will ensure that the problem is quickly settled.

Situation Four – You wake to find a cover story featuring all your competitors

It’s horrible to feel as though you’ve been left out of the loop. Perhaps it is a restaurant publication that lists the Top 5 new eateries in town that you have not been informed about. Definitely do not slam the article or call in rage demanding that they do a re-count on this so-called “Top 5.”

We first recommend contacting your client to let them hear this from you, rather than the publication itself.

Then, we recommend sending over an email (in a cheerful tone) that indicates that you have seen that article and are also one of the newer restaurants in town and that if they would need additional sources the next time an article of that vein was in the works that you would love to be a part of it. This is a great way to introduce yourself or your client to this media professional.

Note also, that you should make sure that the coverage is good – no need to stress over an article that decries all of your competitors as the 5 worst places to eat in the city.

Situation Five – Crisis, crisis, crisis and no prepared plan of attack

A PR professional should never be without a plan of attack. It’s  what makes us professional, and if you don’t have this for your company, we highly recommend you start planning in advance, NOW.

However, when any situation turns foul, it is all hands on deck. It is important to pinpoint and contain the problem primarily so that you know exactly what kind of crisis you are dealing with. If the problem necessitates addressing the media, delegate a spokesperson that can keep a calm demeanor and ensure that there is no panic on the public side. Assign members of your team to different parts of the strategy, dealing with the press, talking with the client, discussing with future customers, etc.  Make sure that you constantly monitor the situation and even when the crisis has passed that you communicate what to do by giving updates on the aftermath as the dust settles.

Situation Six – No media show up for your press conference or media event.

First of all, are you exaggerating? Although it might not look like a press briefing at the White House, do your brand a favor and cater to the media that came with all of the courteousness that you usually bring. In PR you welcome anyone who offers up their time to see how much of your time you spent on putting together a press conference that rocks and you should proceed with the announcement even if you are talking only to the high school newspaper correspondent. If there literally are no cameras at your event, continue with the event as scheduled. Yes, it was important to get coverage, but the event probably has a greater purpose that made it newsworthy – a charity or cause that will benefit just by your participation. Yes you promised them coverage but do not forget that you are actually there to support.

Situation Seven – You accidently share a personal tweet on the corporate account

Yikes, this one has gotten employees fired before. While it does get complicated with the multiple Hootsuite accounts you have linked to your phone you should never have this problem. If you have shared something completely inappropriate – sex, politics and religion are the three biggies that come to mind – it may be the best course of action to delete the Tweet. While a large part of this list maintains that you should claim responsibility, if something posted would offend the masses, it may be best to simply deal with the backlash of response to the post than to leave it up for more people to see.

If there is backlash, we recommend letting the client know of the mistake as soon as possible, as well as your plan of action to rectify this situation.

Simply explaining that the tweet was made in error and closing up the gap of time that people had to see it, will aid in the damage control process. If the Tweet in question is something that could be explainable and your audience may be receptive, send a follow up to “can’t wait, four more minutes till happy hour” with a tweet that says “looks like @johnsmith is really excited for the weekend, anyone want to meet us there?“

The important thing about this situation is response time. Twitter minutes include literally thousands of tweets and being timely about the mistake is a must.

Situation Eight – You lose cell/Internet service; what is a PR pro without access?

It is important to always remember to breathe. You are a very important PR professional/executive/business owner, but the Internet does stand-alone and time will go on whether your subway is caught underground or not.

Losing your head in a panic attack may lead to rash decisions that could yield negative consequences, so just remember to keep your head. Chances are that you are not alone on these projects, although you may ultimately have final say or make final approvals.

During a crisis, product launch, or moment where internet is crucial, we like to have a back up plan (whether that is an iPad with 3G service, a neighbor in our office with an external hotspot, or someone in another location (working from home for instance) that can be on call in case of emergency.

Situation Nine – An expensive PR stunt results in zero coverage

In this case, as above in Situation Six, it is important to go along with your stunt. If you have already spent the money, you can definitely post the stunt –without stats on who came – to the company’s blog along with great participation pictures. You also never know if people are running late, and you would not want to disappoint a reporter who would have come to an event with nothing to cover. Do some follow-ups with the outlets that you have contacted, explaining how great the stunt went and providing pictures and details should they decide to cover post-stunt.

Just because there is no live coverage does not mean that they will not run something as “What happened this weekend,” or something in a similar vein.

Unfortunately, you live and you learn and this is a hard one because even a PR professional extraordinaire cannot control everything around you (although trust us, we wish it wasn’t that way :) ). Every experience that you have ultimately enriches the density of your PR savvy and as long as you learn from the event, it is never a complete waste.

Situation Ten – You have the wrong addresses listed on a media tour and your spokesperson is late to every interview

This is another situation where timing is key. When did you notice this? Hopefully on the first stop for the tour, so that you can send a corrected list to the spokesperson in question. Another important thing to remember is to contact the media person who is scheduled to meet with the spokesperson and to apologize for the inconvenience but that your spokesperson is running late. If that means that they will have to cancel the meeting, inquire on the phone if there are any questions that you may be able to answer for them over the phone so that you can still get the placement.

 

We hope that these scary situations have been resolved in your mind and that you are a little more at ease after playing them out. The key to most is to remember to keep your head, respond in a timely fashion and assume culpability. Follow these tips and there will be no more nightmares, only sweet PR dreams!

The Darker Side of PR: Why Your Business Needs Smart Communication

Filed Under (case study, crisis communications, integratePR) by integratePR on 25-07-2011

Social media outlets, like Twitter and Facebook, and now Google+, have given society ways to communicate across vast distances, leading to a networking revolution that has created communities with incredible potential. By harnessing the power of these outlets, businesses can sell products, build their brand, and interact with customers in ways that our parents and grandparents could have never imagined. However, this rapid communication and worldwide inter-connectivity also means that management faux pas and public relations tragedies can quickly overcome a business in a negative press nightmare.

Consider what first springs to mind when someone says, “BP.” Animals coated in oil, wetlands stripped of life and oceans slick with tar are generally what come to mind. A company previously known for environmentally-friendly research into alternative energy sources became the symbol of corporate mismanagement, overnight. (read our one-year-later BP analysis here)

Yes, that night, we were one of the firms who did get the 4am phone call from a client in need of some crisis communications. We quickly had releases on the wires, blog posts written and TV interviews scheduled to make sure our clients’ message (who will remain nameless) was clearly communicated in the most positive, effective light.

Also think of the many celebrities, who through a single recorded message, press conference, or tweet, tore down their personal brand image with shocking speed. The power of effective, efficient and SMART communication management in these situations cannot be ignored.

The saying, “all publicity is good publicity,” no longer flies in a world such as ours, where a lifetime of good publicity can be overturned by a single bad public relations decision. By a single driver going too fast in your branded vehicle, which quickly appears as a picture on twitter and a destructive message. Or by a minor case of the Mondays, taken out on the wrong person at your restaurant that turns into a 2,000-word Yelp rant.

Rather than try to rely on outdated methods of maintaining a loyal customer base, look to new methods and start to mold an online presence for your company that learns from the mistakes made by others. Your business will enter the World Wide Web with a relevant and reliable image, giving your product or service the positive and influential branding it needs.